Rouse trial de­layed as lawyer with­draws


There is another de­lay in the most re­cent trial of a North Kentville man on sex-re­lated charges af­ter his lawyer quit the case Nov. 26.

Dar­rin Phillip Rouse was in Kentville Supreme Court on that date for a sched­uled hear­ing on whether he was fit to stand trial on charges of sex­ual as­sault, sex­ual touch­ing, in­vi­ta­tion to sex­ual touch­ing and drug traf­fick­ing. The sex charges in­volved a girl un­der the age of 16.

But be­fore that hear­ing could even get started, Rouse’s lawyer told Jus­tice Pierre Muise that he was ap­ply­ing to with­draw from the case.

Jonathan Hughes said the ap­pli­ca­tion was the re­sult of a “con­flu­ence of events that took place be­tween the last time we were in court seek­ing to have the fit­ness as­sess­ment done. Ef­fec­tively, it’s just an ir­repara­ble break­down in the solic­i­tor-client re­la­tion­ship, and Mr. Rouse and I have had sev­eral dis­cus­sions. As a re­sult of those dis­cus­sions, I don’t be­lieve I would be able to mount a ful­some de­fence for Mr. Rouse.”

Rouse, 52, told Muise that he wasn’t aware of the ap­pli­ca­tion un­til Nov. 23, when he was trans­ferred to the pro­vin­cial jail in Burn­side from a fed­eral in­sti­tu­tion, where he is serv­ing a seven-year sen­tence for sex-re­lated crimes in­volv­ing three women, and drug traf­fick­ing.

“I just know there has been a lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion there, and that’s been prob­a­bly the big prob­lem,” he said.

He said Hughes was pretty clear that he didn’t think he could stay on the case, and “it is what it is. There has been a dif­fer­ence of opin­ion on a cou­ple of things.”

Muise granted Hughes’ ap­pli­ca­tion.

Af­ter Hughes left, the court dealt with the ap­pli­ca­tion by Rouse to be de­clared un­fit to stand trial. He had claimed that an as­sault in jail and an al­leged in­jury dur­ing an ar­rest by RCMP had left him un­able to re­mem­ber any­thing from the time of the al­leged of­fence.

He said he didn’t agree with the man­ner of the as­sess­ment, and that his mem­ory loss is gen­uine and by rea­son of a men­tal dis­or­der, specif­i­cally PTSD, from the al­leged in­juries.

Muise said the re­port says the lack of mem­ory al­leged by Rouse “does not cor­re­spond to any cri­te­ria or lack of mem­ory that is de­scribed in sci­ence with re­gard to a psy­chi­atric ill­ness.”

The re­port also said the re­sults of the as­sess­ment in­cluded a test of mem­ory ma­lin­ger­ing, the re­sults of which “were ex­cep­tion­ally un­usual and highly sug­ges­tive of ex­tremely ex­ag­ger­ated mem­ory dif­fi­cul­ties or ma­lin­ger­ing.”

The re­port also said that Rouse’s test­ing in­di­cated “he de­lib­er­ately chose the wrong an­swers to cre­ate an os­ten­si­ble mem­ory prob­lem.”

The au­thor of the re­port wrote that “there is lit­tle doubt ... that any mem­ory prob­lems that he claims to have are ei­ther greatly ex­ag­ger­ated or en­tirely a fabri­ca­tion in­tended to as­sist in achiev­ing a sec­ondary gain of some kind.”

The with­drawal of Hughes as Rouse’s lawyer means another de­lay in the pro­ceed­ings. The trial was sup­posed to start in the spring un­til Rouse fired his orig­i­nal lawyer, who like Hughes was work­ing through a Le­gal Aid cer­tifi­cate. It was de­layed again af­ter Hughes was re­tained so he could get up to speed, and then a third time last month when the fit­ness ap­pli­ca­tion was filed. It was sup­posed to start Nov. 28, but has now been moved to Fe­bru­ary.

Crown at­tor­ney Mike MacKen­zie told court that be­cause Rouse is now with­out a lawyer and es­sen­tially self-rep­re­sented, he is ap­ply­ing this week to have the court ap­point a lawyer to cross-ex­am­ine the com­plainant when the trial fi­nally starts. Those applications are al­ways al­lowed to pre­vent sex­ual as­sault vic­tims from be­ing cross-ex­am­ined by the per­son they are ac­cus­ing.

Rouse was op­posed to that, say­ing he needs a lawyer to rep­re­sent him for the en­tire case, not just cross-ex­am­in­ing the com­plainant. “How is that fair to me?” he said. He also said Fe­bru­ary may not be enough time for him to find a new lawyer. But Muise told Rouse that be­cause he re­fused to waive any claims of un­due de­lay in the case, it must be heard within 30 months and the Fe­bru­ary dates are the lat­est pos­si­ble ones.

Muise said it made sense to have some­one ap­pointed now, in case Rouse can’t get a new lawyer be­fore Fe­bru­ary.

Rouse grew frus­trated through the dis­cus­sions, at one point say­ing, “I don’t know why you don’t just sen­tence me to­day, for God’s sake. You might as well, be­cause you’re just go­ing to pro­ceed with­out me any­way.” He then loudly asked MacKen­zie “how much (jail) time do you want?”

Muise cau­tioned Rouse sev­eral times about swear­ing and us­ing other in­ap­pro­pri­ate lan­guage in the court­room.

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